11.20.2015

Food Allergy Friendships (and Making it Milk-free is Three!)

I realized a few days late that Making it Milk-free turned three years old! November 11 is a special day for many reasons. It is Veteran's Day, our wedding anniversary, and the day I decided to start a blog. In all honesty, I didn't know what I was doing three years ago when I decided to start blogging. (If you followed back then, I'm sure you could guess that!) As I reflect on that time, I have discovered so much more than I ever thought I would.

Photo Credit: Food Allergy Jams


In 2012 I decided to start this blog, really as a way to put the thoughts, fears, and frustrations that come with being a food allergy parent in writing. Mason's milk allergy was diagnosed in 2009 so it wasn't new to us. I remember wishing there had been resources available to me when that original diagnosis came. Looking back now, there were many resources out there, I just didn't have any idea where to look for them. I had no idea that a community of food allergy advocates existed, let alone how large and tight-knit the community was.

In my first year of blogging, I stumbled across the first Food Allergy Bloggers Conference planned for the fall. It sounded interesting so I put it on my calendar. During the next several months, I discovered a handful of food allergy bloggers and began following them on social media. Once I attended the first FABlogCon event in 2013, I was amazed to meet so many wonderful, like-minded individuals. We may have all in varying stages of this life: from early diagnosis to seasoned pros, from dealing with multiple food allergies to just one, but it didn't matter. It was a room full of people who just "clicked."

I find that as a parent to a child with a life-threatening food allergy, it is easy to feel isolated and alone. Sure there are support groups available in some areas, and in my case, my family is a huge support. Although I don't wish food allergies on anyone, in many ways I am thankful that my sister and sister-in-law and I have each other to lean on. We all have children with life-threatening allergies (which makes family gatherings safe and less stressful!) and we know we have each other.

But there are still everyday frustrations that come along with the diagnosis even if you have support. I live in a small community where there are not a lot of children with food allergies. Navigating the school system was new to me and it is hard to not feel self-conscious about being "that mom" who has to discuss a plethora of accommodations for her child. Even with understanding and wonderful individuals who help to keep my son safe, I would love to not have the daily worries that come along with it.

I had the privilege of attending the third annual FABlogCon this past weekend. I found myself getting so excited the week leading up to the event, not just because of the wealth of knowledge shared, or the incredible swag from the sponsors, but because I was getting to see so many of my friends! Some of us may have met in person before, others may have just emailed or communicated through social media. Because we are all dealing with similar aspects of this food allergy lifestyle, we have gotten to know each other and our families.

Food Allergy Friendships | Making it Milk-free | makingitmilkfree.com


We laugh along with one another at the silly things our kids say and do. We are each others' cheerleaders when facing adversity. We cry along with one another when the days are hard or we hear in the media of yet another untimely death due to anaphylaxis. We band together in a way I've never known before in an effort to keep our children, every child, safe. I have "met" so many amazing friends who just get what I am feeling, because chances are good they feel it too.

In three years of blogging, I have learned so many valuable things when it comes to educating, advocating, and spreading awareness of food allergies, but the most valuable things I've gained are the friendships built along this journey.
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